Machine Agnostic Integration Lifts Automation Levels and Speeds Up Fabrication

Digitalization and digital transformation are trends driving Industry 4.0. These trends are all aiming to create smart engineering, construction and operations processes. However, fabrication is an important step often lost in this story as traditionally many processes are non-digital. In order to embrace the power of digitalization, fabrication needs to become digitally enabled to fit into the overall digital chain and build a bridge between engineering and construction.

In fabrication, there are needs for automatic machinery and more autonomous systems to support metal cutting and welding. Hence, highly advanced semi-automatic and automatic production lines for plate cutting, robotized profile cutting and laser panel welding have come today more common at customers. All this together makes it possible to optimize and automate production and increase production efficiency.

Postprocessors
In the metal cutting, there are typically vendor-supplied or in-house built drivers to take nested part geometries and create cutting CNC files for specific machines. Often these programs are dependent on the authoring design system or the machine hardware, and they may create constant updates, thus incurring costs for the upkeep. Intergraph Smart Production solutions can generate CNC files automatically, we currently have drivers (postprocessors and robot codes) for over 1,500 cutting machines with different technologies, such as flame, plasma, laser, waterjet, shear and multi-axis bevel cutting, and additional drivers can be created as services.

For example, the latest Smart Production Enterprise 19.01 software release includes some 30 new drivers for latest plate cutting machines and profile robots with various brands and technologies including multi-torch cutting, drilling and panel plate cutting (i.e. multi-plates with variable plate thickness).

Integrated nesting
Hexagon PPM Digital Fabricator nesting tools have design agnostic capabilities to import part geometries as geometry files or profile macros from many different 2D and 3D design systems and formats. These solutions make it possible to speed up and integrate plate, profile and pipe nesting works, when different manufacturers’ nesting tools can be replaced by the Smart Production nesting software with the capabilities to provide CNC files to cutting machines from one software.

Summary
Smart Production as a single solution can be utilized if one has multiple different cutting machines. Therefore, instead of having per a machine solution, the user can have one software Smart Production that fits all machines. Thus, the automatic generation of CNC files to almost every cutting machine results in a simplified workflow. It is independent of the authoring system, speeds up work preparation and, finally, proves proper and solid cutting results for the efficient fabrication.

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Ismo Piirainen
Ismo Piirainen is the Sales and Business Development Director at Hexagon PPM and responsible for the development of the fabrication market mainly in the EMIA region. He is based on Oulu, Finland. He has broad experience within B2B sales, pre-sales and business development in the metal industries, steel prefabrication and shipbuilding. Reach out to him on LinkedIn.

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